It is unclear where this latest round of anti-intellectualism will end in connection to the new AP US History curriculum. As many of you know more than one state is considering legislation that would ban the the course. The accusations are on the whole vague and reflect a commitment to teaching a certain narrative of American history rather than encouraging students to develop the requisite skills that would allow them to draw their own conclusions.
As far as I can tell the accusations being leveled at AP teachers across the board by Republican lawmakers come with not one visit to an actual classroom.
That’s just part of the problem. The bigger problem is twofold: The College Board has not done nearly enough to explain to the general public just what its curriculum is designed to accomplish. If interpretation is the central focus of the new curriculum, the College Board has done a poor job of interpreting its own work for interested parties and the public as a whole.
More importantly, history teachers must be more proactive in articulating what they are doing in the classroom. It’s not enough to deny the absurd claims that they are teaching a certain narrative of American history or that they are encouraging their students to hate their country. They must be able to explain what the teaching of history involves.
Finally, what almost everyone has left out is the fact that this is the first school year in which this new curriculum is being taught. At the end of the year tens of thousands of students from across the country will take the first AP test. If Republican lawmakers want to demonstrate the dangers in the curriculum why not wait for the results? Let’s see what students know and don’t know about their history. More importantly, let’s see what we can learn about how they think about their nation’s past.
Let’s hold our lawmakers to the same standards that AP history teachers do with their students. Let’s look at the evidence and draw conclusions based on careful interpretation.